Book Reviews


There are so many books being published in June and July that I struggled to choose which ones to review. For June, we have a memoir by a local author who chronicles his transition from urban hipster to rural business mogul. July brings us another wonderful dog story by the author of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s previous memoir, I Am Not Myself These Days, chronicled his relationship with a crack-addicted male escort and his part-time career as a drag queen named Aquadisiac. Horrifying and hilarious by turns, it established him as an author to watch, assuming he could manage to achieve and maintain a more stable lifestyle. Fortunately for all of us, he met his partner of 10 years, Brent; wrote his memoir and a novel; and then he and Brent purchased an historic mansion in Sharon Springs, in Schoharie County which brings us to the subject of his new memoir, The Bucolic Plague: From Drag Queen to Goat Farmer. And what a memoir it is! What it lacks in life-on-the-edge excitement/terror of his first memoir (ie., there is no possibility of an alcoholic coma, drug overdose or drag queen bashing) it makes up for in humor and everyday drama.

The Bucolic Plague is an updated Green Acres, one with a hip and organic twist. Josh and Brent become part of Sharon Springs society right away; hanging out at the American Hotel with owners Garth and Doug; hiring Farmer John to tend their goats; chatting with neighbors at the Agway about the awful weather. They become ambassadors of sorts, bringing produce from their garden to their city co-workers who are suspicious of vegetables with dirt on them and eggs that aren’t in cartons. Soon, their urban friends are asking for gardening tips and visiting Sharon Springs to experience its rural delights. When Josh and Brent are asked to do a pilot for a reality show, they agree, only to find that their pursuit of the illusion of perfection is beginning to wear on their relationship. When Brent is laid off and the reality show falls through, money gets tight and it looks as though they are going to lose the farm (no pun intended) and their relationship. Kilmer-Purcell’s fluid writing and sarcastic wit make for a wonderful reading experience, and this tale of the ups and downs of city slickers-turned-gentleman farmers will appeal to anyone yearning for a simpler life. Not to give away the ending, but keep an eye out for the premier of The Fabulous Beekman Boys on Planet Green this June and read the book for the full story.

W. Bruce Cameron’s newest novel is A Dog’s Purpose, coming out in July. It is another novel narrated by a dog, but this one has an interesting twist—the narrator goes through several lifetimes, trying to find his purpose for being alive. In every lifetime, he learns something new that will help him in his next life, but each time he dies, he is sure he will be gone forever. Cameron does an excellent job of making the dog’s (Toby/Bailey/Ellie/Buddy) personality shine through, and viewing humans’ quirks through canine eyes is very funny. Warning: every time he dies, you will probably cry – even though you know he’ll be back, you’ll grieve for his lost life. A Dog’s Purpose will inevitably be compared to The Art of Racing in the Rain, but it stands up on its own as a terrific story. Whether or not you love dogs, this novel will move you, and it is appropriate for teens, too. This is an excellent book to share with your family – enjoy! 

Susan Taylor has been in the book business since 1982.



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